Former U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige was the keynote speaker when Atlantic Legal announced its Charter School Advocacy Program, a nation-wide effort to advance the mission of charter schools and parental choice in education, at a conference in New York City on November 7, 2005.
Secretary Paige, who received Atlantic Legal’s inaugural Freedom Award for Leadership in School Choice, said that "charter schools… are making a giant contribution to the United State. They are here to stay." To encourage the growth of charters, Secretary Paige said that inferior charters should be shut down, otherwise "charters are going to look a lot like traditional schools." Paige also emphasized the need for the charter school movement to do a better job of communicating its message. "We’ve got a story that we’ve got to get out; we’ve got to get it out in the right way; we can’t depend on the media to do that."
Secretary Paige was introduced by Atlantic Legal President William H. Slattery who praised the Secretary’s lifelong service to education and his leadership in the passage and implementation of the No Child Left Behind legislation. Mr. Slattery observed, "Secretary Paige’s initiatives began to turn the aircraft carrier around and at long last it’s moving."
The conference featured the launching of the first in a series of educational guides for charter school leaders: Leveling the Playing Field: What New York Charter School Leaders Need to Know About Union Organizing.